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Lent, Coaching, Change and Transformation

Posted: March 12, 2012 by Rob Voyle

"Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies it, it remains a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit." (John 12:24)

When coaching people or congregations I often wonder what needs to change and how does it need to change. Does something need to grow and develop or does something need to actually die and allow new life to spring forth.

Simple changes, such as learning or developing a skill or implementing new procedures typically don't require that anything needs to die. We simply build on the understanding and resources that we already have.

Transformation on the other hand requires that something dies so that new life can be created. If we want to transform our churches or organizations then we need to become masters of allowing things to die and midwives to the new life that is coming into being.

Here is an example of where something needs to die. Many people and congregations have an underlying victim narrative. No amount of coaching and trying to help them learn new skills or ways of doing things will be of genuine help, because the person or congregation will screw it up because success would interfere with their victim consciousness.

Incompetent coaches and helpers will blame the person and say the person didn't want to change rather than recognize that fact that they the coach didn't know how to genuinely help the person.

What the person with victim consciousness needs is transformation. The victim narrative needs to die. That is the grain of wheat that needs to fall into the ground and die. The victim narrative needs to die so that a survivor and then a thriver narrative can be created.

What dies in a grain of wheat when it falls into the ground is its temporal form so that its life-giving essence can be released into a new temporal form. When helping things to die we need to pay attention to what actually needs to die and what needs to be allowed to blossom forth with new life.

There is an old joke: "How many psychologists does it take to change a light bulb?" answer: "only one but the light bulb has to want to change." I think that is a bunch of nonsense. The truth is: "it only takes one psychologist to change a light bulb, but the psychologist needs to know how to change a light bulb."

Transformational coaching requires non linear strategies, or the crazy wisdom that Jesus was a master at. Think of the weird conversations he had, with the woman at the well, the woman he called a dog, the man at the pool, or telling a group of angry men to stone a woman. These conversations were not about change they are about transforming the underlying narrative of defeat to a new way of being.

If you would like to learn the crazy wisdom of Jesus and some of his patterns of transformation I invite you to participate in the Foundations of Appreciative Coaching training.

In the training you will learn some ways to change the bulb, and more importantly, turn on the light. We will explore the dynamics of change and transformation and you will practice some of the crazy wisdom of Jesus.

In the meantime consider what needs to die and be curious as you wonder what new life will blossom forth in its place.

With Lenten Blessings
Rob Voyle

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The Appreciative Way

The Appreciative Way
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About the Author

Rob Voyle

Rob Voyle

The Rev. Dr. Rob Voyle is a leader in the development and use of appreciative inquiry in church and coaching settings.

Rob's Approach to Training

  • Helpful: Training must provide practical, sustainable solutions for today's challenges.
  • Humorous: Creativity and humor go together as people enjoy new insights.
  • Healing: I create opportunities for people to experience transformational insights that lead to new ways of living, working, and being in the world.

>>   See more on Rob's
        Helpful, Humorous, Healing
        approach to training.